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Playing background music to healthcare staff could discourage them from cutting short their hand hygiene routines, according to a new study.


Published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, the study filmed the surgical hand disinfection procedures of 236 healthcare workers. The volunteers were divided into an intervention group and a control group, with the intervention group being played background music while they disinfected their hands.
The study revealed that most workers washed their hands for more than two minutes at a time, and that no significant increase in scrubbing time was noted when background music was played.
However, the music did reduce the proportion of very short scrub times —those of under 90 seconds — from 17 per cent to nine per cent. This led the study authors to conclude that playing music could have a positive effect on hand hygiene among healthcare staff.
The researchers also discovered that women, less senior members of staff and healthcare workers in groups tended to scrub their hands for longer periods.
Scientists worldwide are attempting to find new ways of improving hand hygiene compliance in healthcare. Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, are attempting to discover whether monitoring staff via sensors could have a positive effect on hand hygiene.
The ongoing study involves 500 health providers whose hand hygiene behaviour will be recorded via sensors in hand sanitiser and soap dispensers. Some participants will be alerted with electronic voice reminders when they fail to wash their hands while others will receive weekly feedback with their compliance rates and how these compare with those of their colleagues. The researchers will then assess which method – if either – changes staff behaviour.
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